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Old 09-09-2019, 04:12 PM
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Genetically modified food is safe to eat


Were it not, the FDA, which really does know what it's doing most of the time, would not have allowed it on the market.
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Old 09-09-2019, 04:58 PM
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Oh boy.

The FDA is far from perfect, but the evidence is overwhelming that foods that have been modified by selective genetic technology (as opposed to random manipulation through cross-breeding) are safe to eat.

On the other hand, there's a guy in California who says his raccoons won't touch the stuff, so maybe not.
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Old 09-09-2019, 04:59 PM
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OK. Where's the debate? Many of us here on the Dope do agree that it's safe to eat.
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Old 09-09-2019, 05:07 PM
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OK. Where's the debate? Many of us here on the Dope do agree that it's safe to eat.
There's a lot of anti-GMO feeling among self-ID'd environmentalists.
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Old 09-09-2019, 05:17 PM
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There's a lot of anti-GMO feeling among self-ID'd environmentalists.
I have this funny feeling that a lot of people that are anti-GMO are confusing GMOs with organic food. At my store we sell food and I'll bet that half the time someone asks if something or another is GMO and I say that it very well could be (since it's not labeled as non-GMO) they'll reply with 'ok, I don't want it then, I don't like all those chemicals in my food'. Depending on how the conversation feels at that point, I'll try to explain that something labeled as non-GMO doesn't say anything about the use of fertilizers or pesticides and that they're likely looking for organic.

Similarly, people will mention something about the products we carry from a local 'gluten free' bakery. On more than once occasion, when I explain that the bakery isn't gluten free it's vegan, they ask me what the difference is.
That, to me, says a lot. That tells me that people aren't actually comprehending (or even really reading) all these things, they're just blindly buying them because they're told they're better for you.

I always like Bill Nye's response to "If something is a GMO, should it be labeled as such", to which he says "Yes, they should be labeled, they should say 'Proudly GMO'"
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Old 09-09-2019, 05:30 PM
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Let's go further:
  • GMOs are safe.
  • Vaccines are effective.
  • Global warming is real (and largely caused by humans).
  • Humans are related to apes.
  • Nuclear power is safer (by kilowatt) than all other power sources.
  • We landed on the moon.
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Old 09-09-2019, 06:19 PM
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GMOs generate feelings of outrage and contagion. They're safe, but we live in a society where people avoid gluten for unnecessary reasons (most people on gluten-free diets don't have celiac disease), where people who aren't eating enough go on water fasts or juice cleanses, and so forth. We live in a society where more than a third of the population (in the US and Canada) use homeopathy (and 3-4% use this as their primary form of "health care"). We live in a society where people are afraid that vaccines, that are designed to prevent disease, cause them.

Unfortunately it's not possible to convince those who fear GMOs that GMOs are safe. You would have to fix viral misinformation first.
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Old 09-09-2019, 06:43 PM
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  • Nuclear power is safer (by kilowatt) than all other power sources.
"Environmentalists," again . . .
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Old 09-09-2019, 06:44 PM
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You would have to fix viral misinformation first.
ISTM the only way to fix viral misinformation is with contrary viral misinformation. "Did you know that GMO foods prevent cancer?!"
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Old 09-09-2019, 06:51 PM
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ISTM the only way to fix viral misinformation is with contrary viral misinformation. "Did you know that GMO foods prevent cancer?!"
clever
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:46 PM
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Virtually everything we eat (wild caught fish being the major exception) is genetically modified. The difference is that the modern GM foods were modified by people who knew exactly what they were doing rather than by trial and error.

There is a point on the other side though. So-called Roundup Ready crops have been modified to make them tolerant of glycophosphate herbicides. But are we tolerant of it? That is the only cogent objection to GM foods that I am aware of.
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Old 09-09-2019, 08:18 PM
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I have this funny feeling that a lot of people that are anti-GMO are confusing GMOs with organic food. At my store we sell food and I'll bet that half the time someone asks if something or another is GMO and I say that it very well could be (since it's not labeled as non-GMO) they'll reply with 'ok, I don't want it then, I don't like all those chemicals in my food'. Depending on how the conversation feels at that point, I'll try to explain that something labeled as non-GMO doesn't say anything about the use of fertilizers or pesticides and that they're likely looking for organic.
You should also ask them if they're okay with organic fertilizers, pesticides & fungicides being used to grow the organic food, just to be fair. Might be tricky if they're not, though, as then they're going to have to find food grown without any chemicals at all, which is real tricky these days.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:14 AM
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There's a lot of anti-GMO feeling among self-ID'd environmentalists.
I've tried addressing this confusion with the SIZE=3 font, and with the SIZE=4 font. At this point, I'm going to ask you to use your Browser's Zoom function and focus in on the following sentence!
Intelligent environmentalists aren't concerned about direct safety; the concern is about ecological damage.
hth
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:23 AM
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You should also ask them if they're okay with organic fertilizers, pesticides & fungicides being used to grow the organic food, just to be fair. Might be tricky if they're not, though, as then they're going to have to find food grown without any chemicals at all, which is real tricky these days.
I'm not trying to start an argument with anyone, just trying to educate them a little bit. Or more specifically, clear up a misunderstanding they appear to have. If they don't know the difference between vegan and gluten-free or think GMOs don't have any chemicals on them (and they seem to be thinking of organic). And, I'm trying to convey it all in just a sentence or two. IOW, if they want the produce that "isn't sprayed with all those nasty chemicals", they want organic corn, not the corn that's genetically modified to be resistant to Round Up.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:23 AM
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Follow our lead!

That appears to be a clever pun conflating "lead" as in "leadership" with the name of the toxic heavy metal. Yeah, trust major industries with your health and welfare. Tetraethyl lead was the most poisonous substance ever introduced in a mass scale into the environment.

GMOs today are safe to eat, but serious public oversight is necessary to make sure that it remains so, because the potential of genetic modification in the future is unbounded and the future risks are unknown.
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Old 09-10-2019, 04:17 PM
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Yeah, trust major industries with your health and welfare. Tetraethyl lead was the most poisonous substance ever introduced in a mass scale into the environment.
When I see people arguing that we should beware of vaccines because Big Pharma produced Vioxx, I ask if they would also recommend that diabetics avoid insulin, victims of incipient strokes stay away from clot-busting drugs and those suffering from sepsis refuse antibiotics, because, y'know, Big Pharma Bad.

The typical response is dead silence, or an attempt to change the subject.

Same goes for the theory that Big Agriculture is untrustworthy because of whatever, so be very very apprehensive about genetically modified foods. As my dentist once told me when I asked her if it was safe to chew gum with my new dental work, "You gotta eat."
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GMOs today are safe to eat, but serious public oversight is necessary to make sure that it remains so, because the potential of genetic modification in the future is unbounded and the future risks are unknown.
Of course new GM varieties will continue to receive close scrutiny. Given that we've had decades of GM food products being consumed and none of the dire warnings issued by anti-GMOers have come to pass, I am encouraged rather than frightened by the possibilities.* Preservation of the coffee and orange juice supply through varieties modified to resist disease? More nutritious vegetables? Bring 'em on.

*I'm concerned about bacterial and other contamination in the supply chain, less so about new genetic combinations (i.e. the ones that occur in random and untested fashion through ''conventional'' hybridization, and which have (rarely) caused illness).
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:26 PM
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There is a point on the other side though. So-called Roundup Ready crops have been modified to make them tolerant of glycophosphate herbicides. But are we tolerant of it? That is the only cogent objection to GM foods that I am aware of.
Can't you just wash the food before bringing it to market?
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:27 PM
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I've tried addressing this confusion with the SIZE=3 font, and with the SIZE=4 font. At this point, I'm going to ask you to use your Browser's Zoom function and focus in on the following sentence!
Intelligent environmentalists aren't concerned about direct safety; the concern is about ecological damage.
hth
How do GMO crops damage the environment? ISTM they lessen the damage, if they don't require pesticides.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:48 PM
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How do GMO crops damage the environment? ISTM they lessen the damage, if they don't require pesticides.
Many GMO crops do not damage the environment directly. (There's always some hybridization and drift into adjacent fields, but let's call that "indirect.") However, the "RoundUp-Ready®" GMO crops create a situation wherein glyphosate is dumped all higgledy-piggledy all over this planet, and some folks (including myself) think this is maybe not such a great idea given that the WHO calls it "probably carcinogenic to humans." Also probably not optimal is the use of glyphosate as a drying agent after harvest for some grain crops.

I'll gladly eat any* GMO food that isn't drenched in carcinogenic herbicide. But I'm not super pleased about RoundUp® use, and I sure don't want it sprayed on the wheat that goes into my raisin bran.

Genetic modification is a tool, and like any tool can be used for good or ill. IMHO, it's mostly been used for good thus far, and I think GMO foods are necessary to feed the increasingly-crowded planet. But no love lost here for RoundUp-Ready® crops.

*ETA: or at least, I won't turn down a food I would normally eat just because it's a GMO. There are things I won't eat, period, GMO or not.
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Last edited by mjmlabs; 09-10-2019 at 07:52 PM. Reason: added footnote disclaimer/clarification
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:43 PM
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GM is fundamentally ethically and security neutral. It is ridiculous, inherently, to make and blanket statement or broad statements about the nature of GMO in any respect other than technically. GMOs cannot in principle be either evil or safe, they just can’t.

Both of the simplistic memes, “it’s unnatural so it’s bad” and “it’s science so it’s safe” are deeply deeply flawed and dangerous and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:05 PM
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modern GM foods were modified by people who knew exactly what they were doing rather than by trial and error..
It always makes me want to duck whenever anybody says 'We know exactly what we're doing.' People who think they know exactly what they're doing stop watching out for unexpected problems; which is a bad idea.

No, they don't know exactly what they're doing. It's necessary to insert the gene, then grow the crop out to see what happens; which often isn't what was predicted; which is why not all of multiple strains make it to market, and some of the ones that do don't perform as promised. That's trial and error. And to the best of my knowledge they're not checking for subtler effects in changes of nutrition.

Obviously nothing that's hit the market so far is out and out poisonous.

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Can't you just wash the food before bringing it to market?
Glyphosate's a systemic. That means it's taken up into the plant. You can't just wash systemics off, because they aren't only on the surface, they're all through the plant.

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How do GMO crops damage the environment? ISTM they lessen the damage, if they don't require pesticides.
Some of the most common GMO's are modified specifically in order to be able to tolerate the use of pesticides (herbicides are pesticides) which they would otherwise not be able to survive. They're meant specifically to be used with pesticides.

Many of the other common GMO's are modified so as to express a pesticide throughout the plant, and the whole time the plant is growing in the field. This doesn't reduce the use of the pesticide, it increases it. The fact that the application is done through the plant and not by a sprayer doesn't mean it's reducing the use.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:04 AM
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Some of the most common GMO's are modified specifically in order to be able to tolerate the use of pesticides (herbicides are pesticides) which they would otherwise not be able to survive. They're meant specifically to be used with pesticides.
No, herbicides are not pesticides. Pesticides kill bugs, herbicides kill weeds.

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Many of the other common GMO's are modified so as to express a pesticide throughout the plant, and the whole time the plant is growing in the field. This doesn't reduce the use of the pesticide, it increases it. The fact that the application is done through the plant and not by a sprayer doesn't mean it's reducing the use.
It does, in that it keeps the pesticide inside the plant; it doesn't go off into the general environment.

Last edited by kirkrapine; 09-11-2019 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:33 AM
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No, herbicides are not pesticides. Pesticides kill bugs, herbicides kill weeds...
Totally untrue. Google pesticide.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:32 AM
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No, herbicides are not pesticides. Pesticides kill bugs, herbicides kill weeds.



It does, in that it keeps the pesticide inside the plant; it doesn't go off into the general environment.
You are . . . not helping. I'm a strong proponent of GMOs. But if you're not even familiar with the basics, maybe leave this one for the real scientists?
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:45 AM
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To the OP, "food is safe." Until it's not. I can conventionally breed food to make it unsafe. It's been done. I could CRISPR something to make it unsafe, although doing that accidentally certainly stretches the imagination.

Genetic modification of corn reduced pesticide application from from ~200 g/ha in 1996 to ~10 g/ha in 2010. While yields went up, requiring less agricultural land to produce more food.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:39 AM
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I'll gladly eat any* GMO food that isn't drenched in carcinogenic herbicide. But I'm not super pleased about RoundUp® use, and I sure don't want it sprayed on the wheat that goes into my raisin bran.
Beyond the fact that no crop is "drenched" in herbicide, mjmlabs might be interested in knowing about what herbicides were used before Roundup came along.

Products like alachlor, cyanazine and atrazine were not exactly the equivalent of fairy dust sprinkled on crops. Precursor chemicals often had higher acute toxicity, remained longer in the soil before breaking down and even had carcinogenic potential (Roundup's alleged carcinogenicity is based on an IARC report produced under dubious circumstances and which contradicts findings by numerous other health agencies and organizations).

Oh, and to my knowledge no genetically modified wheat has been approved for sale in the U.S. or anywhere. Testing has been done. "Modifications tested include those to create resistance to herbicides, create resistance to insects[10][11][12] and to fungal pathogens (especially fusarium) and viruses,[13][14] tolerance to drought and resistance to salinity[15] and heat,[16] increased[17][18] and decreased[19] content of glutenin, improved nutrition (higher protein content, increased heat stability of the enzyme phytase, increased content of water-soluble dietary fiber, increased lysine content),[20][21] improved qualities for use as biofuel feedstock, production of drugs via pharming and yield increases."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_wheat
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:59 AM
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No, herbicides are not pesticides. Pesticides kill bugs, herbicides kill weeds.
As has been said: absolutely untrue. Insecticides kill bugs. Fungicides kill fungi. Herbicides kill plants (including, very often, desired plants.) All of them are pesticides.

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It does, in that it keeps the pesticide inside the plant; it doesn't go off into the general environment.
What do you think happens to the plant at harvest? Do you think all bits of it, roots and all, are removed from the environment? If you do think that: it isn't true.

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Genetic modification of corn reduced pesticide application from from ~200 g/ha in 1996 to ~10 g/ha in 2010.
Again, that only works if you ignore the production of pesticide by the corn itself.

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While yields went up, requiring less agricultural land to produce more food.
Yields per acre have been going up over the past century or more for a whole lot of reasons. Nutrition per acre may be a separate issue. And any increase in yield due to the specific common GMO traits is short lived, as the massive reliance on those specific GMO traits leads to resistance in the insects and weeds affected.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:03 PM
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GMO's may be safe to eat, but the argument that they are because the FDA said so is erroneous.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:57 PM
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Again, that only works if you ignore the production of pesticide by the corn itself.
That would require Cry protein production of 190 g/acre. So no, that doesn't only work if we ignore the same stuff that organic farmers ignore when they apply Bt spores at a kilo per acre.

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Yields per acre have been going up over the past century or more for a whole lot of reasons. Nutrition per acre may be a separate issue. And any increase in yield due to the specific common GMO traits is short lived, as the massive reliance on those specific GMO traits leads to resistance in the insects and weeds affected.
Bt maize was introduced over 20 years ago and we're still seeing improved yields due to reduced Ostrinia nubilalis and Helicoverpa zea, even with increasing temperatures (DOI 10.1073/pnas.1720692115 , 10.1038/s41598-018-21284-2), despite whatever myths Big Organic may be whispering in the ears of gullible non-scientists.

And never mind the decrease in carcinogenic mycotoxins.
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:54 PM
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As a bruised and bedraggled veteran of the co-op *movement, I am fascinated by the awesome power of "Big Organic". And, of course, I am horrified at how its crushing power oppresses plucky, idealistic upstarts like Cargill and Monsanto. Sad.

(Say what you will about the counterculture, without which there might not be a Whole Foods. Yay, us.)
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:16 PM
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GMO's may be safe to eat, but the argument that they are because the FDA said so is erroneous.
Do you seriously believe that the US is the only country in the world with a reputable food agency?
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:24 PM
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Many of the other common GMO's are modified so as to express a pesticide throughout the plant, and the whole time the plant is growing in the field. This doesn't reduce the use of the pesticide, it increases it. The fact that the application is done through the plant and not by a sprayer doesn't mean it's reducing the use.
I think you're misunderstanding that one a little bit; it's not like they've somehow engineered these plants to somehow start producing malathion in their tissues or anything like that. They're generally existing anti-insect chemicals- usually from other plants or from bacteria.

The one I'm most familiar with is the Bt maize that Ruken refers to. It's corn that's been genetically modified to express specific proteins (Cry proteins) that a certain sort of bacteria(bacillus thuringiensis) naturally produce, and which specifically messes up insect digestive systems, due to the fact that they're highly alkaline, as opposed to the digestive systems of birds, mammals, etc.. Different species of Bt produce different proteins, which affect different sorts of insects.

In fact, Bt bacteria is used, like Ruken also describes, by organic farmers who spray it or dust it on their crops, and is generally considered non-toxic.

So it's not like it's an "insecticide" in the common usage of the term- it's much more benign than that.
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:18 PM
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I think you're misunderstanding that one a little bit; it's not like they've somehow engineered these plants to somehow start producing malathion in their tissues or anything like that. They're generally existing anti-insect chemicals- usually from other plants or from bacteria.

The one I'm most familiar with is the Bt maize that Ruken refers to. It's corn that's been genetically modified to express specific proteins (Cry proteins) that a certain sort of bacteria(bacillus thuringiensis) naturally produce, and which specifically messes up insect digestive systems, due to the fact that they're highly alkaline, as opposed to the digestive systems of birds, mammals, etc.. Different species of Bt produce different proteins, which affect different sorts of insects.

In fact, Bt bacteria is used, like Ruken also describes, by organic farmers who spray it or dust it on their crops,
Bump, I know all that. I've been farming (organically) since the 1970's.

Bt is an insecticide. What's doing the job, in either the organic or the GMO version of the application, is a toxin which is naturally produced by bacillus thuringiensis -- or at any rate, a very similar material; I believe there are slight differences in the GMO form, which aren't thought to make a practical difference. It's a toxin which is only known to attack certain insects at certain life stages; but it's still an insecticide. And it attacks a large number of insects in addition to the target pests.

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That would require Cry protein production of 190 g/acre. So no, that doesn't only work if we ignore the same stuff that organic farmers ignore when they apply Bt spores at a kilo per acre..
From someone at Cornell who, judging by the rest of his answer, is strongly pro-GMO:


Quote:
the Bt in Bt-containing crops contains about the same level of Bt as is applied by organic farmers when they spray the bacteria. Now, of course, the bacteria is not 100 percent Bt protein
so the amount applied by the organic technique is going to be less, not the same, because he's been comparing the protein amount in the GMO plant to the total bacteria amount in the organically-allowed product.

And that's assuming that the organic farmer applies every seven days for four months; which isn't necessarily what's happening. But even if we assume it is: no, the pesticide use isn't reduced.


And then there's dicamba. There's been a lot of resistance to Roundup developing in weeds; so the new thing is dicamba-resistant soybeans. Dicamba used to be used primarily in cold weather in the fall, for clearing fields; but there are now soybeans GMO'd to be resistant to it, and for this use dicamba's now applied during the growing season. Problem is, dicamba doesn't stay where it's put; if the weather's at all warm, it volatilizes and drifts, sometimes for significant distances; and this appears to happen even with formulations that are supposed to resist volatilization. And it kills strains of soybeans that don't have the resistant trait -- and also quite a lot of other things including vegetable crops and tree crops. So the GMO dicamba-resistant soybeans are causing a huge problem.

Is the technology essentially evil? No, it's a tool. Is the way it's currently being used beneficial and nothing but beneficial? No; it's a tool being used by some researchers who are seriously trying to learn; by a few people who really are trying to do good; but mostly by a handful of very large companies who make much of their money from selling seeds and pesticides in combination, who want to have as many people as possible buying their product, and who are heavily invested in short-term results.

The entire issue is tangled up in a lot of misinformation -- some of it deliberate -- on all sides; and also tangled up in attempts to monopolize the food production capabilities of the entire planet.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:07 PM
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GMO's may be safe to eat, but the argument that they are because the FDA said so is erroneous.
How so? Argument from authority is not a fallacy when the authority in question is legitimately expert on the topic in question.

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Old 09-11-2019, 05:59 PM
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As has been said: absolutely untrue. Insecticides kill bugs. Fungicides kill fungi. Herbicides kill plants (including, very often, desired plants.) All of them are pesticides.
Thank you for clarifying that. I always thought "pesticide" and "insecticide" were synonymous.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:02 PM
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As a bruised and bedraggled veteran of the co-op *movement, I am fascinated by the awesome power of "Big Organic". And, of course, I am horrified at how its crushing power oppresses plucky, idealistic upstarts like Cargill and Monsanto. Sad.

(Say what you will about the counterculture, without which there might not be a Whole Foods. Yay, us.)
I am a bit miffed at you lot for fuzzying public perception of the term "organic." Strictly speaking, as chemists use the term, any compound containing carbon is organic. Coal is organic. We really need another term for "food grown without artificial pesticides."
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:14 PM
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I am a bit miffed at you lot for fuzzying public perception of the term "organic." Strictly speaking, as chemists use the term, any compound containing carbon is organic. Coal is organic. We really need another term for "food grown without artificial pesticides."
Strictly speaking, the term in the 18th century meant "made by/from organs" (e.g. made by plants and animals), and then was co-opted by chemists in the 19th century to include anything containing carbon (even if the substance in question was utterly toxic to natural organs). When speaking generally (outside of chemistry), returning to the original usage makes sense.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:26 PM
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I am a bit miffed at you lot for fuzzying public perception of the term "organic." Strictly speaking, as chemists use the term, any compound containing carbon is organic. Coal is organic. We really need another term for "food grown without artificial pesticides."
What's that thing I just used to click on the multiquote link? Can't be a mouse. Mice are furry rodents.

There are a huge number of words in English with multiple meanings. Lots of people seem to think it makes some sort of point to pick on this one. It doesn't.

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Strictly speaking, the term in the 18th century meant "made by/from organs" (e.g. made by plants and animals), and then was co-opted by chemists in the 19th century to include anything containing carbon (even if the substance in question was utterly toxic to natural organs). When speaking generally (outside of chemistry), returning to the original usage makes sense.
It's originally a reference to considering the farm as a whole as a living organism, which is -- in another sense of the word organic -- an organic part of a whole ecological system. (See sense 4, here:
Quote:
forming an integral element of a whole : b : having systematic coordination of parts : organized an organic whole c : having the characteristics of an organism : developing in the manner of a living plant or animal )
It's also a reference to the organic matter in the soil.

And, yes, it fits with "made by plants and animals."

ETA: There's a very great deal more to organic farming than just "grown without artificial pesticides."

Last edited by thorny locust; 09-11-2019 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:46 PM
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It's originally a reference to considering the farm as a whole as a living organism, which is -- in another sense of the word organic -- an organic part of a whole ecological system.
Nice! After my previous comment I was musing on the exact route to lead to that term being used in farming, I didn't really think people had reached on purpose back to the 18th Century.

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ETA: There's a very great deal more to organic farming than just "grown without artificial pesticides."
Oh, definitely, in the farming context it's a full community-of-practice - it's slightly unfortunate (linguistically) that some of the practices involve specific choices on chemicals that may or may not line up with the organic chemistry definitions, mainly these days because it leads to too many discussion thread derailments .
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:17 PM
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Nice! After my previous comment I was musing on the exact route to lead to that term being used in farming, I didn't really think people had reached on purpose back to the 18th Century.
Nitpick: I don't think the word was used for farming practices until the early 20th century. The first use is generally credited to Lord Walter Northbourne in 1940, and it was popularized by J. I. Rodale in the 1940's, although there were certainly people working in the field earlier in the 20th century.
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:04 AM
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Intelligent environmentalists aren't concerned about direct safety; the concern is about ecological damage.
Or more broadly, our lack of awareness and preparedness about what ecological damage we may be causing. For example, the likely contribution of herbicides such as Roundup to the massive decline of monarch butterfly populations in North America. Nobody started out planting GMO "Roundup-Ready" herbicide-resistant crops with the thought "Hey, this will enable us to kill huge numbers of butterflies!"
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:13 AM
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ETA: There's a very great deal more to organic farming than just "grown without artificial pesticides."
What more, exactly? Do you use mule-drawn plows and dig up the weeds with hoes?
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Old 09-12-2019, 01:00 AM
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What more, exactly? Do you use mule-drawn plows and dig up the weeds with hoes?
Although IANA organic farmer, I found it pretty easy to discover information on organic farming practices by just googling it. One typical description of organic farming practices as distinct from modern industrial agriculture listed some of their characteristics as follows:
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protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health

maintain long-term soil fertility by optimizing conditions for biological activity within the soil

maintain biological diversity within the system

recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise

provide attentive care that promotes the health and meets the behavioural needs of livestock

prepare organic products, emphasizing careful processing, and handling methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production

rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems
I'm a bit surprised that you weren't already aware that organic farming is more about these sorts of principles than about either merely eschewing certain pesticides or else using mule-drawn plows and hand hoes. Have you not encountered the concept of organic farming before?

Last edited by Kimstu; 09-12-2019 at 01:00 AM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:56 AM
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I'd agree with the original post, but I'd say that GMOs CAN be unsafe depending on the modification (obviously). For example, some plants can be modified to express a protein that someone might have an allergy to, but this stuff is usually tested before it hits the market. But yeah it's hard to seperate the marketing from the reality.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:01 AM
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Intelligent environmentalists aren't concerned about direct safety; the concern is about ecological damage.
hth
Exactly. Chicken is safe to eat, beef is safe to eat. I don't want waterways contaminated with chicken shit. I don't want wealthy ranchers grazing public lands into deserts. I don't care if there's trace amounts of glyphosate in corn-flakes. I don't care if there are cancer causing amounts of glyphosate in corn-flakes. I don't want dead waterways. Roundup Ready crops are allowing an increase in the use of glyphosate. Glyphosate is bad for things that live in the water.
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:30 PM
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What more, exactly? Do you use mule-drawn plows and dig up the weeds with hoes?
Would you actually like your ignorance fought, or would you prefer to revel in it?

The central ideas behind organic farming are that the farm is considered as a whole organism that's part of the larger ecological system; that the farmer works with nature, rather than in opposition to it, to preserve and improve the health of the farm as a whole and of those portions of the larger system that the farm directly interacts with; and that it's the long-term health of the field, not just of the particular crop growing in it at the moment, which is aimed for. One of the common ways of phrasing this is 'healthy fields produce healthy crops which produce healthy people.'

Avoiding the use of synthetic chemicals is a tool that's used in attempting to reach the goal of healthy fields. It's neither the primary thing being aimed for, nor the only tool in the toolbox.

(Organically-permitted pesticides, while we're at it, are way down near the bottom of the toolbox; which is one reason why I'm suspicious of that Bt-every-week-for-four-months comparison. I don't raise field corn, but my neighbor raises organic field corn on some of my fields, and while I see him out here fairly often I don't think I've ever seen him applying pesticides; and the only pest I've really heard him complain about is squirrels. The main pest problem I've got in my vegetables is deer.)

Other tools include but are not limited to cover crops; crop rotations; pasture rotations; selection of types of tillage and cultivation which are suitable to the particular operation considering such things as soil types, soil slopes, soil depth, size of operation, number of humans involved, types of crops and/or livestock involved; timing of planting of particular crops; timing of pasture use by particular livestock; selection of species suitable to the general area and to the particular operation; selection of specific cultivars and/or breeds within those species not only for yield, but also for suitability to the location, flavor, nutrition, and pest resistance; selection of livestock housing and pasture so as to allow natural systems and natural behavior to contribute to the health of the animals; selection of added nutrients when and where necessary, in amounts and fashions intended, again, to contribute to the long-term health and fertility of the field; diversity of species raised on the farm; provision of habitat for beneficial organisms both microscopic and macroscopic; provision for protection of banks of ponds and streams; provision for various methods of preventing soil erosion; provision for properly dealing with "waste" products so that if possible they don't become "waste" but instead become a useful part of the system whether on or off the farm, or if that isn't possible are disposed of in the least damaging way possible; and I'm sure there are things I've left out of this very long sentence. -- oh yes, and while the USDA doesn't allow considering in current organic standards the treatment of any hired farmworkers who might be part of the operation, many private certifying organizations used to do so, and some have developed additional agreements that farmers are encouraged to sign on to.

A mule might or might not be involved in there somewhere (some people use them to keep coyote away from sheep); and/or a hoe. And/or a 300 horsepower GPS equipped tractor pulling an experimental cover crop crimping roller followed by a multi-row no-till planter followed by a researcher from Cornell, taking notes.
  #47  
Old 09-13-2019, 04:16 PM
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Most of the opposition in this thread is not directly related to GMOs. Viewing a farm as a whole organism and employing crop rotation can be done with GMO just as easily as non-GMO. Using GMOs just gives you a bigger toolbox.

My problem with organic farming is that it's less efficient; 80% to 66% less efficient, depending on who you believe. If all farms in the US were to go organic we'd need a sizable increase in farmland and that comes with its own environmental impact.

I would think it be much better if the principles of organic farming were joined with the latest scientific breakthroughs in agriculture, and that includes GMO.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:20 PM
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Doing markets. Time and energy for proper reply lacking. Will come back to this, it'll probably be a day or two.
  #49  
Old 09-13-2019, 08:21 PM
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How so? Argument from authority is not a fallacy when the authority in question is legitimately expert on the topic in question.
While I don't want to derail this discusion, right now we have a bizarro-world situation where scientific authorities are being deliberately prevented from presenting scientific conclusions as valid for political reasons. I would hesitate to call any scientific agency under the current administration a legitimate expert on anything at all that has any political controversy to it whatsoever. Hopefully soon, we will return to a situation where these agencies can be trusted again, but that trust may take some time to rebuild.
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Old 09-13-2019, 08:57 PM
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I'll bet that my paid staff of Mad Scientists can genetically engineer some food that is totally bad for your health, so it would seem the answer depends on the nature of the genetic modification in question.
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